A Curious Hoax: Episode 2: Series 1

How did two very small animals from opposite ends of the world send shockwaves through the scientific community and upset the reputation of leading scientists?

A Curious Hoax: Episode 2

Here, in the second episode of the series, Sir David Attenborough looks at the curious cases of the duck-billed platypus and the male Midwife Toad.

A Curious Hoax?

Duck-Billed Platypus

When early explorers brought back the first duck-billed platypus specimen to England in 1799 it was deemed so bizarre by scientists that it was thought to be a hoax, baffling even the great Charles Darwin.

The duck-billed platypus mystified scientists due to both its intriguing mammal and bird-like characteristics - a coating of fur alongside a bill and webbed feet. They also lay eggs like a bird but produce milk like a mammal.

Where does this animal sit in the tree of life?

Sir David Attenborough and a midwife toad

Sir David Attenborough and a midwife toad

Midwife Toad

The midwife toad is a curious amphibian whose unusual mating rituals and curious anatomy led to arguments and accusations of fakery among scientists in the 1920s.

But how did this tiny toad baffle the scientific community?

This species of toad is unique because they breed on land while the male is the one who carries the string of fertilised eggs on his back, hence the name "midwife".